From the NY Post:
Members of the Indian cultural group, including Koshy and Sanu Thomas, went to Padavan and pitched a community center to hold “community activities and social gatherings,” including picnics, dances, weddings and holiday celebrations. They targeted two chunks of land on Creedmoor’s 98-acre campus and drew up plans.
So Padavan and then-Assemblyman Mark Weprin (D-Queens) rammed through separate legislation to OK the sale through a three-day message of necessity. That passed in July 2006. When the sale took longer than expected, Padavan and Weprin authored another bill in 2007 to extend the timetable for the sale by a year.
The group showered Padavan and Weprin with campaign contributions. Members donated at least $2,850 to Padavan and $2,510 to Weprin for his City Council and Assembly runs between 2000 and 2009. Group members also gave $1,600 to Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Queens), Mark’s brother, for his 2009 city comptroller bid. Sanu and Koshy Thomas shelled out the lion share of the group contributions.
Padavan, whose daughter-in-law is Indian-American, went on a crusade to get the land sold. He hounded state dormitory authorities to approve the deal without the usual attorney general review, according to state Sen. Tony Avella (D-Queens). Sale of state land is usually conducted through an auction to the highest bidder, or granted to public entities. Since 2006, the Creedmoor parcels were the only sale of state Dormitory Authority land to be pushed through with special legislation, according to state records.
Clark introduced a bill in January to grant the group roughly 6 acres to eliminate the state’s concerns about the patchwork of property. Last month, as the legislative year was winding down, she and Assemblyman Weprin visited Avella in his office and asked him to co-sponsor it. When he refused, she got downright “threatening,” Avella said, and later publicly slammed a “freshman senator” for not knowing his place. Clark then went to Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Queens) to co-sponsor a bill, which he did last month.
Local civic associations are up in arms over the development’s monstrous apartment buildings, which are slated for area seniors. The towers are too tall for the area’s zoning, and the group is trying to get a variance by using obscure examples from those granted in the dense sections of the South Bronx.
It’s not a difficult to see, in Sanu Thomas, the beginnings of a New York politician in the mold of Pedro Espada or Vito Lopez. Espada started a non-profit health clinic in The Bronx, then, when elected to office, steered millions in contracts to it, enriching himself. He will now stand trial for embezzlement.
If the Indian Culture and Community Center gets its land, it could be a low-cost way for Thomas to have a non-profit that “gives back to the community” while it potentially pays his friends and cultivates voters that put him on the City Council or in state government. Decades from now, will Sanu Thomas be steering taxpayer “member items” to these groups?
Thomas already has learned one lesson of New York politics. Any criticism is not motivated by the misuse of public funds, or suspicion about private deals, but racism.